Chicago begins identifying potentially offensive and removable monuments, including those honoring Lincoln, McKinley, Ben Franklin, Washington, and Ulysses S. Grant

February 19, 2021 • 10:00 am

Good god! It’s not enough that San Francisco embarrassed itself by renaming 44 schools, including those bearing the monickers of Dianne Feinstein, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Paul Revere. Now the city of Chicago, under the leadership of the increasingly embarrassing mayor Lori Lightfoot, is undertaking the same venture, singling out 41 monuments to be “investigated” for possible removal or renaming. The bowdlerization of my city is detailed in these two article from the Chicago Sun-Times and the New York Times (click on screenshots below):

Sun-Times:

NYT:

You can see photos and descriptions of the scrutinized monuments on this page, and I have to say that there are almost none of them that I find worthy of removal, for they mark history, with all its flaws, and offense of some people is not sufficient to immediately mandate erasing a statue. (There are FIVE monuments to Abe Lincoln to be vetted!) And there are alternatives to removal, as I mention below.

Here are a few photos of statues being scrutinized, along with possible reason why they’re “problematic” (indented). Here are the criteria that the committee is considering:

Reasons for making the list include promoting narratives of white supremacy; presenting an inaccurate or demeaning portrayal of Native Americans; celebrating people with connections to slavery, genocide or racist acts; or “presenting selective, over-simplified, one-sided views of history.”

The project website does not note which criteria might apply to any specific monument or statue.

That’s not exactly true, as I show below.

There’s also an advisory committee vetting the monuments, with its members shown here (I’m not optimistic!), and, unlike San Francisco, Chicago is soliciting public feedback on the monuments. (But it would help to know why they’re on the list!). I will give them feedback.

The first one, “A Signal of Peace” seems to be problematic only because it displays a native American. It was intended by the sculptor (and his patron) to be a sign of respect for Native Americans as well as a lament for their oppression by whites:

Before the fair was even over, arrangements were made by wealthy Chicago lawyer and art patron Lambert Tree to purchase the sculpture for $3,000 cash. Offering it for permanent placement in Lincoln Park, Tree was clear in his intent that the monument was intended as a permanent symbol of respect for native peoples who were: “…..oppressed and robbed by government agents, deprived of their lands… shot down by soldiery in wars fomented for the purpose of plundering and destroying their race, and finally drowned by the ever westward tide of population.”

Are we not, then, to depict any Native Americans, even in this respectful and mournful (for their oppression) manner?

Photo ©: Jyoti Srivastava

Here’s another Native American sculpture, (“Indians; the Bowman and the Spearman”) in Grant Park; I often look at and admire this when I drive downtown. And here’s why it’s to be scrutinized:

Impressive for their heroic scale and bristling energy, the sculptures have been criticized for their romanticized and reductive images of American Indians.

Reductive? Romanticized? It’s an admirable, admiring, and truly lovely piece of art. For crying out loud, most public statues are “romanticized,” not to mention “reductive”. What are we supposed to show: a Native American skinning a buffalo?

Photo ©: Jyoti Srivastava

Here’s “Standing Lincoln,” a well known statue. Why is it bad? The site doesn’t say, but apparently Lincoln’s allowing a few Native Americans to be hanged (and pardoned many more)—as well as his early (but later changed) bigotry towards blacks—outweighs his emancipation of the slaves. It’s by the famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and comes with this note on the site (there’s no “reason” given to scrutinize this):

Many people who personally knew Lincoln and were alive at the time of the monument’s dedication commented on the imagery being a moving and accurate representation. As a guide, Augustus Saint-Gaudens used life casts of Lincoln’s face and hands made by Chicago sculptor Leonard Volk.

Photo ©: Jyoti Srivastava

Benjamin Franklin gets scrutinized, too, for he owned two slaves but later freed them and became an abolitionist. So what’s the problem?

Franklin’s achievements in helping shape United States democracy as well as his role in other disciplines are well-documented historical facts. Historical archives reflect some negative personal views on people and groups not unusual for the time, but historians have noted that he was open-minded and would often shift in his positions. Franklin owned two slaves who served in household responsibilities, but he later freed both and became an outspoken abolitionist.

Photo ©: Jyoti Srivastava

George Washington, by Daniel Chester French (a replica).  No reason given, but of course Washington owned slaves. The site says this:

The monument is one of the finest examples of equestrian sculpture in Chicago, and is considered a major work by Daniel Chester French, whose later work included the marble sculpture of Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

Photo ©: Jyoti Srivastava

Why Leif Ericson is scrutinized baffles me, and no information is given. Yes, he may have made it to North America, but he didn’t “colonize it”.  In fact, we know little about his exploits.

Photo ©: Jyoti Srivastava

And woe to Ulysses S. Grant, who led the Union Army to victory over the Confederacy. He had one slave but set him free. The caption says this:

Grant pursued a number of unsuccessful ventures, including farming on his father-in-law’s Missouri plantation, where he purchased and quickly manumitted a slave, and working for his father, a fervent abolitionist, at the family’s Galena, Illinois leather goods business. Grant quickly proved himself a brilliant tactician and leader, rising to lead the Union forces by 1865.

Photo ©: Jyoti Srivastava

Another statue, “The Alarm”, seems to be a dignified and respectful depiction of Native Americans.  No reason is given why it’s on the list.  Here are a few words:

Sculptor John J. Boyle grew up in Philadelphia and was trained at the Franklin Institute, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. In preparation for Ryerson’s commission, Boyle spent two months observing Native American subjects and making numerous sketches and studies.

Photo ©: Jyoti Srivastava

Are there any monuments that I think need to go? Given alternatives of explanatory plaques or counter-monuments, I found only one. But it’s already been taken down! I think the one below is invidious and divisive, and doesn’t honor anything except a massacre of settlers by Indians, not noting that most of the killing went the other way. Here’s the “Fort Dearborn Massacre”. A note from the site:

Industrialist George Pullman (1831-1897) commissioned this monumental bronze figural group to be placed near his Prairie Avenue mansion — which was believed to be the site of the attack on the garrison evacuating Fort Dearborn during the War of 1812. The work shows Potawatomie chieftain Black Partridge intervening on behalf of Margaret Helm, wife of the fort’s commander and the step-daughter of fur trader, John Kinzie. Danish sculptor Carl Rohl-Smith (in Chicago to create sculpture for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893), based his figures on sketches he made of Indian models who were held captive at Fort Sheridan in the aftermath of the massacre at Wounded Knee. Conceived in a sensationalist, luridly violent mode, the sculpture was long criticized by American Indian activists and was removed from public view in 1997.

It’s already gone! None of these should be destroyed; they should be preserved somewhere as examples of public art, no matter how misguided or lurid.

 

The New York Times details some pushback, but also gives one view of why Lincoln should be erased:

The committee’s list almost immediately drew criticism from some state leaders. “Never thought that statues of Abraham Lincoln or Ulysses S. Grant would be considered ‘controversial’ in the Land of Lincoln,” Representative Darin LaHood, a Republican who represents parts of Peoria and Springfield, wrote on Twitter. “This is detached from reason.”

Daniel Fountain, a professor of history at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C., said that Lincoln’s legacy has come under scrutiny in the 21st century in part because, as a younger politician, his views reflected the white supremacist attitudes of most 19th-century politicians.

Professor Fountain noted that during his famous debate with Stephen Douglas, his rival in Illinois, Lincoln stated his opposition to letting Black people serve as jurors, marry white people or “attain any semblance of social equality.”

Lincoln’s views evolved during the Civil War, but those early statements remained “abysmal,” he said.

“For many, his flaws undermine his very real, significant achievements,” Professor Fountain said.

Well, Professor Fountain, for more people Lincoln’s achievements outweigh his flaws. How many people have to be offended before a statue is removed? And can’t we just add a plaque that he once held bigoted views but changed them? Why is that not enough? Woe to America if we have to pull down statues of Abe Lincoln!

In general I object to the erasure of history, for if we remove all monuments to people who, when morality changes over time, are found wanting, then almost all history will be gone.

The Atlantic just published what I see as the definitive way to regard monuments, and which of them really deserve to be removed. Click on the screenshot, and I do recommend that you read this thoughtful and reasonable take:

One excerpt:

The issue of what to do with monuments and school names can be more complex than the cartoonish excesses of the woke left might indicate. Art’s impact on the public weal should not be the sole or leading measure of its worth—that way Stalinist “socialist realism” lies—but in certain cases it cannot be ignored.

Few would want a statue of Hitler or Mussolini or Tojo to stand in a town square, even if it was erected in the 1930s and thus could be said to be a historical artifact. Many of the Confederate statues in the South were commissioned in the dark days after the end of Reconstruction, when the Ku Klux Klan ran riot, Black people were terrorized and lynched, and the mythology of the “Lost Cause” was born. To treat such objects as if they were simply neutral cultural artifacts is to willfully misread history. Some public art is arguably so detrimental to social cohesion that a civic conversation about what to do with it is desirable.

In any case, the answer does not have to be to remove the “bad” public artworks. They can be curated, with explanatory material placing them in historical context. (Early Days was curated, but inadequately.) They can be balanced with other works: A German friend told me that in Hamburg, city officials dealt with a Nazi-built memorial glorifying war by commissioning a counter-memorial that criticized it. These works can be moved to a historic monument site, or to a museum—making explicit their status as aesthetic or historical objects, not exemplars of city values.

. . . In the end, self-righteous symbolic crusades like the school-renaming campaign must not be immune from criticism simply because they purport to fight racial injustice—that noble cause is debased by empty gestures that achieve nothing. Indeed, by creating conflict over trivial objectives—just turn on Fox News—they are more likely to harm the cause of societal progress and racial harmony than to advance it.

Yes, I shall be giving my input to the monument-inspection Pecksniffs, and perhaps to the mayor and my alderman.

h/t: Ben

51 thoughts on “Chicago begins identifying potentially offensive and removable monuments, including those honoring Lincoln, McKinley, Ben Franklin, Washington, and Ulysses S. Grant

          1. Wow, what a disgusting plot. Pretty damaging to Grant, and to Sheridan (but we already knew that the latter had these genocidal tendencies, to put it mildly). I note that Custer appears to have been a victim here, not so much of the Lakota, but of Terry, Crook and again, Sheridan.
            The only ones that come off honourable in that account are Sherman and Maypenny, I’d say.

      1. Hence the ‘not entirely consistent’ qualification. But he did also do, or try to do, some good on that front, and was sincere in his sympathy with Native Americans, even if in a way we might not admire today. Point is: seems unfair to remove him given the good he did and tried to do. Smashing the KKK is just the most dramatic example of that (if he failed in everything else, and was terrible in his attitudes in every other way, well, even that stand alone would, or should, lead us to give him a hefty dose of credit in the historical moral balance book).

  1. One must evaluate the present by the past, and not the past by the present. What’s happening with Progressives is clearly a process of cultural destruction, less violent than what the Taliban did, but clearly an iconoclastic movement that wants to stigmatize the past. The assertion that the US is systematically racist relies to a great extent on the idea that the US is as racist today as it was in 1619, and in all the years between. This is undercut by figures like Lincoln and Grant and Franklin who, although susceptible to the prejudices of their day, were different than many of their neighbors in their attitudes towards race, and were involved in the progress of legal and political equality for blacks in this country. What systematic racism can never explain is how whites in this country participated in events like ending slavery, let alone allowed them to happen.

  2. Why Leif Ericson is scrutinized baffles me …

    Well, he was White (which is enough on it’s own?), and celebrating the first European in the Americas is Eurocentric and thus White Supremacist.

    1. But Leif had the good grace of being whipped and chased away by the ‘Skraelings’. Should that not earn him some ‘woke points’? Or at least count in his favour?

  3. Why aren’t the combined statues in Oz Park on the list since they represent a hatred of certain witches, particularly western types?

  4. “For many…” – The woke version of Trump’s “People are saying…”
    Ladled out of an equivalently shallow mental well.

  5. I see no reason to keep a single confederate monument on city land, as they were typically put up for disreputable and entirely refutable reasons. But for the rest, it will be far better to just erect new monuments to reflect our current values. And very few would object to that. So this approach would be far more unifying than the current fad.

    On a parallel topic, there is the issue of putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. I am agreeable to this. Over much of our history, we had frequently changed the symbols and portraiture on our currency, and portraits were not always used. It was only in the 20th century that the look of our currency became fixed to images of a few historical figures. Time to change some of them out, just for the hell of it! And to then plan to change them more frequently.

  6. This is the new leftist religion. These are self righteous religious fanatics who think they get to say how racist the rest of us are, without any possibility of dissent. To me it seems like a counterpoint of the rightist religion of obligatory patriotism with guns thrown in. No argument allowed there either. What can be done to counteract this? As the Atlantic article opines, and I agree, this garbage feeds the right, and I can hears the gales of laughter coming from the MAGA ranks.

  7. A paper in Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology explains the new fashion waves of school-renaming and statue-reviewing. To wit: “During the observation of another person’s action the activation of the mirror neuron system induces a prepotent imitative tendency to copy it. However, normally this tendency is inhibited if the imitation is not necessary. Nevertheless, in some cases such inhibition is disturbed, resulting in an uncontrolled mimicking of others’ actions.” The paper by Dankinas et. al. goes on to show
    that this uncontrolled mimicking (or echopraxia) is associated with schizophrenia. I suggest that it is also associated with membership in school boards, municipal government committees, and—as we saw
    last year—academic English departments, bird-watching associations, and similar bodies.

  8. Well, it sounds like Chicago is actually taking public input, the absence of which was one of Mr. Kamiya’s big beefs about the S.F. process. Whether the committee actually gives any weight to those inputs…

    Can’t say I’d be too upset if Chicago removed the bust of the Chief Justice who wrote Plessy v. Ferguson. The pillar given to the city by Benito Mussoulini tickles me for some reason. I’d probably personally vote to keep it just out of obstreperousness, but I can understand and accept the desire to take it down. Other than that, it seems to me like a concerted effort to erase any mention of the city’s founding, as many if not most of the targeted monuments relate to Chicago’s settlement.

  9. And this is why I did not vote for a single Democrat in 2020. I voted Republican unless they were odious (e.g. QAnon supporter or Trump). I voted Libertarian when they were.

    I hope the Democrats get slaughtered in 2022. The wackos are in control of both parties and it needs to stop.

  10. I hope the Democrats get slaughtered in 2022. The wackos are in control of both parties and it needs to stop.

    How does that make any sense? You do realize that if the Dems get slaughtered in 2022, it will be the wackos in control of the GOP that step in, right? Your logic seems to be that you don’t like Kang or Kodos, so you hope Kang gets slaughtered in the next election…by Kodos. Huh?

    1. You are absolutely right that I currently have a choice between Kang and Kodos but how can that change?

      Kang’s loss gives the Republican party a chance to grow up and there is going to be a fight for control. I am hoping the same sort of shake up for Democratic party if Kodos gets slaughtered. It is likely that neither party will change but I need some sliver of hope. If Kodos and his acolytes win, the country is screwed.

      My children went to the “School formerly known as Jefferson.” The denaming vote was 7-0. I decided I would not vote for a Democrat in Oregon until something changes.

  11. Both sides deprecated culture war, but one of them would wage culture war rather than let history survive, and the other would accept culture war rather than let it perish. And the culture war came.

    (You know, as ol’ Honest Abe himself might’ve put it.)

  12. Re. all this as fodder for Fuxx News, call me a conspiracy theorist, but here is my conspiracy theory: The Deep Rightwing Conspiracy is funding a lot of this woke stuff, esp efforts to erase Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln.

    (And speaking of that, have they gone after the Lincoln Project yet?)

  13. I have a couple of scary questions for the monument removers to consider. How many of them would be able to survive in 18th century America. A few people down in Texas might now say not likely. With no running water in your house/shack, no electricity, no heat except next to the stove with a fire in it. What would your clothes look like and what would you smell like getting a bath once a week if you were real lucky. Where would you shop and eat?

    The second question is, if you know much of anything about our history, what do you think the chances are that slavery may have had an important part in our success? Without Washington how would it have gone? Washington left home in 1775 to lead the war against the British and kept at it until 1783 when the treaty was complete – at least 8 years. How did he manage to leave the farm for 8 years? Maybe because of slaves. In 1787 he left home again for several months to attend the convention in Philadelphia, you know, the Constitution. Who took care of things while he was gone doing this? He later accepted the job of running the new country for 8 long years, far from home. How did he do it?

    I only ask these questions, not as a racist but as someone who wonders what the hell these people today think they know.

    1. How did he manage to leave the farm for 8 years?

      Slavery isn’t required to make a farm workable. Without slaves, we’d have likely had just as much agriculture, but the profits and products from it would’ve been more distributed between the landowners and the workforce, rather than solely to the landowner.

      And if one is a capitalist, then the thinking is that paying your workers would make the farm more profitable, because they have an incentive to perform well. Slave plantations are more akin to communist Russia, where everyone gets the same very small payoff, no matter what they do (except for the oligarchs at the top). So perhaps instead, you should think about how much slavery held us back. England industrialized starting in the late 1700s. The north industrialzed before the civil war. The south was still agrarian at that point. Hmmm…I wonder why that is?

      1. So instead of answering either question at all you come up with this. If what you say is even slightly true where were all those capitalist farmers to lead the revolution for 8 years? I did not invent slavery, I am only telling the history of what was there and there were no free labor plantations in America at that time…do you understand this?

        1. Very well: to your first question, the fact that most of us 21st century types don’t have the farming, hunting, skinning etc. skills needed to survive in the 18th century has no relevance to the question of who we should memorialize. Firstly because “it so was hard, they needed slaves” is obviously and empirically untrue given the many non-slave owning people at the time (including the slaves themselves). Secondly because we don’t memorialize people merely for living in the pre-industrial age.

          To your second question: I don’t think it had much to do with the US’ success at all. I think slavery held us back from industrializing, as I said in my first response to you. Partly because of that (IMO), we only became an economic powerhouse in the late 1800s. In the early 1800s, England, France, Spain, the German states counted as a group, Russia, China, Japan, and India all had bigger economies than we did. In 1900, the ranking went England, US, then everyone else. After WWII, it went US, then everyone else. Our economic success came after we gave up slavery. Not necessarily because of it, there are loads of other factors obviously, but it certainly is NOT the case that US economic success is correlated with slavery. It’s anti-correlated.

          where were all those capitalist farmers to lead the revolution for 8 years?

          Being chained and murdered if they suggested being allowed to be free.

          I did not invent slavery, I am only telling the history of what was there and there were no free labor plantations in America at that time…do you understand this?

          Sure I do. The system rewarded the few in power, which is why so many of them supported keeping it. That, however, doesn’t mean it was economically good for the country as a whole. I view it something like a prisoner’s dilemma: if you’re the only non-slave-using farm owner in the area, you economically lose out. You have a business incentive to “defect” and use slaves. This ‘if everyone defects, I need to defect too’ situation is what keeps such systems in place. But if some law is put in place to make everyone “cooperate” by not having slaves, the entire group is net better off.

          1. 1st question – if a person today is likely not to survive a month in 18th century America, it should make one pause before passing judgement on the people who lived 250 years before you. They were not like you and did not think like you.

            2nd question – I am only covering history in reality, not inventing a fantacy history that did not exist. I am also, in no way attempting to justify slavery then or now. If it upsets you that George Washington had slaves just like all the other planters in Virginia, that is too bad but it was reality. It did have something to do with his ability to do many other things including leading the country to victory and a new form of government. The fact that you want to insert some other type of agriculture that simply did not exist is almost like the people who want to knock down all the monuments of Washington or Lincoln today. You just don’t like reality history. But do not tell me about the bad things concerning slavery as if I did not know. That is pathetic.

            1. Your first paragraph is again not relevant to the question of who we should memorialize. There are thousands, millions of potential people we could put up statues about. Saying “we should not pass judgement on the people who lived 250 years before you” doesn’t provide us any criteria for whom to select. We shouldn’t pass judgment on the french settlers of the Chicago area? Okay. Nor should we pass judgment on the natives who lived there before the settlers arrived. But if we’re picking one to get a statue, who gets it? Your response is utterly useless for making that decision. That is why your comment ‘who today could…’ is irrelevant to the question of memorials in Chicago.

              I am only covering history in reality, not inventing a fantacy history that did not exist.

              No, you said, very specifically, “what do you think the chances are that slavery may have had an important part in our success?” Followed by your Washington example, which was obviously an argument that you think slavery DID have an important part in our success. You’re not merely relating history, you’re making an argument about a cause of US success. My response to that argument is: I think you are wrong. My evidence is given above, and repeated briefly here: 1. US relative economic success didn’t happen in our slave-holding areas and times. 2. It happened where we industrialized (which was firstly the non-slave states), and 3. It happened decades after we gave slavery up.

    2. Wow, I had completely failed to consider that slavery was good, actually. I’m really glad you brought that to my attention!

      The serious answer is that even back then there was this crazy thing called “paying people for their labor”. Washington maybe could have looked into that as a way to have labor on his farm in his absence.

    3. It looks a lot like you are claiming that slavery was a good thing because it helped the USA achieve independence.

      Fortunately, I think your reasoning is flawed because, firstly, George Washington (who was a traitor to the state btw) could still have left his farm for long periods. He could easily have paid somebody to run it for him (as the British commanders probably did). And of course there’s the perennial stand by that often happens when all the menfolk go off to war: the women take over.

      Secondly, I’m not so sure that the USA achieving independence is provably better than the alternative. Perhaps it might have been worse: for example, slavery was abolished throughout the British empire in the 1830’s. The slaves in the USA had to wait another generation for their freedom and it still took the bloodiest war in American history to achieve it.

      1. There would have been a bloody war between the colonies and Britain if the latter had tried abolishing slavery in the 1830s as well. It’s likely the British would have decided to avoid war and leave slavery intact in America, unless it had additional funds to pay off the slave owners there as well.

          1. Britain was still buying plenty of cotton from the US up to the Civil War and endured a drastic cotton shortage afterward. You underestimate your country’s capacity for compromise. The British elite tended to support the Confederacy, but it didn’t actually give them assistance because the US threatened war that would have cut off much of Britain’s food supply.

            And Britain only was able to abolish slavery by paying off slaveowners (rather than slaves). Would it have had the funds or willingness to pay off all those slaveowner in the US?

      2. For the most part I am not commenting on most of your comment because it is not relevant to anything I said. Just the statement from you stating – I am claiming that slavery was a good thing only proves you are just making it up. By the way, your British commanders all come from only the upper class with lots of money and time on their hands to go out and lose wars in the colonies.

        1. I worded my first sentence very carefully. I said “it looks a lot like you are claiming that slavery was a good thing because it helped the USA achieve independence”. I said “it looks like” because it does look like it, but I know you don’t believe it. And perhaps you should consider statements like:

          Washington left home in 1775 to lead the war against the British and kept at it until 1783 when the treaty was complete – at least 8 years. How did he manage to leave the farm for 8 years? Maybe because of slaves.

          Ask yourself what that looks like to somebody who doesn’t know you. To me it looks awfully like an argument that Washington was only able to prosecute the war successfully thanks to owning slaves. I emphasise that is what it looks like.

          British commanders all come from only the upper class with lots of money and time on their hands

          George Washington was also pretty wealthy. That’s the point. Without slaves, he would simply have paid somebody to look after the farm, whether he was there or not.

    1. “Right and maybe pigs can fly” are you trying to say that Washington paying people for their labor was an impossibility? That strikes me as a hard claim to defend, but I have no idea what else you would mean by that.

      Right here where you try to construct an argument that slavery is at least partially responsible for American victory in the Revolutionary War:

      The second question is, if you know much of anything about our history, what do you think the chances are that slavery may have had an important part in our success? Without Washington how would it have gone? Washington left home in 1775 to lead the war against the British and kept at it until 1783 when the treaty was complete – at least 8 years. How did he manage to leave the farm for 8 years? Maybe because of slaves. In 1787 he left home again for several months to attend the convention in Philadelphia, you know, the Constitution. Who took care of things while he was gone doing this? He later accepted the job of running the new country for 8 long years, far from home. How did he do it?

      To me this reads as an argument that we should consider the possibility that slavery was a net postitive, i.e. a good thing. What were you trying to say, pray tell?

  14. While they’re at it, they should make sure there aren’t any statues of Mohammed…. or, I don’t know, put some up, for justice, or something.

  15. The Republicans went wacko with Trump and lost the presidency. The Democrats are going wacko and I hope they lose as well. I like it when extremism is punished with electoral losses.

    I live in a college town where denaming votes are unanimous and in a state where the current math education is considered racist. In my community, the left wackos are more of threat.

  16. Legitimate question for anyone who may have an answer. Is anyone publicly fighting this destruction of our history in a constructive and productive manner? I see many op-eds, tweets, criticisms, etc. But are there any legislators, councilpersons, etc. trying to stop these egregious removals of anything bearing American or Western history?

    A few years ago I thought this was all fringe, ultra-left wackiness (and I’m a liberal democrat!) But now I’m actually starting to get worried about what a very small minority of Critical Theory cultists are doing to our institutions – school curriculum, statues, naming, and generally waging a huge and very public smear campaign against American and Western history. While there are many things to critique in American and Western culture, I’d love to know what the Critical Theorists would use as a real example of something better – not theoretical, but real examples of societies doing better. Western culture has contributed such civilization-changing foundations and innovations in science, mathematics, medicine, technology, economics, democracy, freedom of religion, civil rights for many oppressed groups…. the list goes on. And it’s all getting smeared by people who have no business critiquing history.

    Finally, something I ponder that I never see discussed with the woke – why is it so awful that Europeans colonized America and other countries yet land battles have been a standard part of human civilizations since the dawn of time? Consider the Europeans never set foot in “the new world”, wouldn’t the indigenous tribes have continued to fight and battle over territory? In a theoretical 2021 like that – would the Cherokee people have to put in their work email signatures that they recognize their office is on Iroquois land? You’d think Europeans were the only people in history who conquered lands and colonized territory. Are office workers in Asia, Africa, Europe, etc. writing email signatures that recognize every population that had their land taken away by others? I mean, just look at the civil wars and constant political and territory changes of hand in a single country like Democratic Republic of Congo!

    I’m sorry for a few random thoughts here, but there are so many logical fallacies to Critical Theory that I am sad and depressed that it seems to have taken such a hold on our institutions.

  17. Pop-history is filled with distortions and falsehoods, generation after generation. Only a few decades ago, Hollywood movies often conveyed the romantic “lost cause” line on the southern side of the Civil War, and the related fairy tale that Reconstruction was a racket by northern carpetbagger profiteers. Now we have the pop-history whoppers that imperialism and slavery were practiced exclusively by Western Europe—and that all of modernity, from science to “free speech”—is part of a colonialist plot. Unlike the earlier pop-history fictions, the contemporary ones have the comical feature of being visibly self-contradictory, as they are generally announced via computers and phones. Nonetheless, these fictions get around. It is worth inquiring into the sociology of how that happens.

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